Sometimes, the hardest part of writing is simply getting started. Whether you’re taking your first dip in the story-telling pool, or you’re opening a fresh, blank document after finishing your last project, that empty page can be a little daunting.
So, to help combat those moments of doubt, here are some quotes from professional authors and artists who have been right where you are now, and who know exactly how you feel.
1. "Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on."
- Louis L’Amour
2. "Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it's the only way you can do anything really good."
- William Faulkner
3. "The first draft is just you telling yourself the story."
- Terry Pratchett
4. "You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it."
- Octavia E. Butler
5. "Start before you’re ready."
- Steven Pressfield
6. "You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page"
- Jodi Picoult
7. "You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club."
- Jack London
8. "I have never started a poem yet whose end I knew. Writing a poem is discovering."
- Robert Frost
9. "If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it."
- Toni Morrison
10. "I'm writing a first draft and reminding myself that I'm simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles."
- Shannon Hale
11. "I get a lot of letters from people. They say, "I want to be a writer. What should I do?" I tell them to stop writing to me and get on with it."
- Ruth Rendell
12. "First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him!"
- Ray Bradbury
13. "The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write. A man will turn over half a library to make a book."
- Samuel Johnson
14. "Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way."
- E. L. Doctorow
15. "To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme."
- Herman Melville
16. "Tell the readers a story! Because without a story, you are merely using words to prove you can string them together in logical sentences."
- Anne McCaffrey
17. "Description begins in the writer’s imagination but should finish in the reader’s."
- Stephen King
18. "No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader."
- Robert Frost
19. "If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot."
- Stephen King
20. "Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer."
- Barbara Kingsolver
21. "Never write anything that does not give you great pleasure. Emotion is easily transferred from the writer to the reader."
- Joseph Joubert
22. "My own experience is that once a story has been written, one has to cross out the beginning and the end. It is there that we authors do most of our lying."
- Anton Chekhov
23. "The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do. "
- Thomas Jefferson
24. "When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done."
- Stephen King
25. "It is perfectly okay to write garbage as long as you edit brilliantly."
- C. J. Cherryh
26. "Half my life is an act of revision."
- John Irving
27. "Writing without revising is the literary equivalent of waltzing gaily out of the house in your underwear."
- Patricia Fuller
28. "Write your first draft with your heart. Rewrite with your head."
- Mike Rich
29. "So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads."
- Dr. Seuss
30. "You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what's burning inside you, and we edit to let the fire show through the smoke."
- Arthur Plotnik
31. "Anyone and everyone taking a writing class knows that the secret of good writing is to cut it back, pare it down, winnow, chop, hack, prune, and trim, remove every superfluous word, compress, compress, compress..."
- Nick Hornby
32. "When you write a book, you spend day after day scanning and identifying the trees. When you’re done, you have to step back and look at the forest."
- Stephen King
33. "It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous. "
- Robert Benchley
34. "There’s no such thing as writer’s block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write."
- Terry Pratchett
35. "Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read."
- Groucho Marx
36. "I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."
- Douglas Adams
37. "If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster."
- Isaac Asimov
38. "If you have no critics, you’ll likely have no success."
- Malcolm X
39. "If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn’t matter a damn how you write."
- Somerset Maugham
40. "And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt."
- Sylvia Plath
41. "If the book is true, it will find an audience that is meant to read it."
- Wally Lamb
42. "I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged."
- Erica Jong
43. "Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers, you cannot be successful or happy."
- Norman Vincent Peale
44. "If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word."
- Margaret Atwood
45. "Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them. "
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
46. "Difficulties mastered are opportunities won."
- Winston Churchill
47. "Ignore all hatred and criticism. Live for what you create, and die protecting it."
- Lady Gaga
48. "You can make anything by writing."
- C.S. Lewis
49. "The true alchemists do not change lead into gold; they change the world into words."
- William H. Gass
50. "Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions."
- Albert Einstein
51. "Words are our most inexhaustible source of magic."
- J. K. Rowling
52. "A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer; it sings because it has a song."
- Maya Angelou
53. "I must write it all out, at any cost. Writing is thinking. It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living."
- Anne Morrow Lindbergh
54. "I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters that I am not. I write to explore all the things I’m afraid of."
- Joss Whedon
55. "I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn."
- Anne Frank
Do you have a favorite quote about writing? If so, share it in the comments below!
About the author:
Claire Wilkins is a freelance copywriter and editor from New Zealand. She loves to write about travel, health, home, and proper punctuation. After a career in financial services spanning almost three decades, Claire left the corporate world behind to start Unmistakable - her writing and editing business. She creates website copy, blogs, and newsletters for creative agencies and small businesses, and specialises in polishing existing content until it shines. In her spare time, Claire enjoys cloud-spotting, singing in the car and editing video.